Ask Eve


What are the most important things to remember when creating a schedule?


Focus on two things: 1) scope and 2) schedule mechanics. First, make sure you have all required scope represented in the schedule. If it spends the project’s money, it should be included in the plan. Use all available project documents (e.g., contract, charter) to check the content of the schedule for completeness. Second, your schedule will function as a good, predictive tool if it’s built according to standards for good planning (e.g., minimize leads, lags, and constraints). My “Planning Mechanics Training” class will help you learn how to do this.


Which is the most important of the PMI Knowledge Areas?


I often field this question from students in my Project Management undergraduate and graduate courses. The answer is: they are all important. Neglecting Project Risk Management, for example, means the project may not anticipate or address issues that may become problems in the future. The PM needs to spend time managing each of the Knowledge Areas, although the current stage of the project (e.g., Planning or Executing) may change the ratio of time spent in each. To preserve sanity, the Project Manager should look for opportunities to delegate day-to-day management (but not responsibility) for one or several Knowledge Areas to a qualified subordinate.


I want to introduce better planning at my organization. How should I approach this?


From my experience in the corporate world and also as a consultant, the most important factor in implementing better planning principles is the organization’s readiness to change. Although influential change agents are important and play a role, if the organization does not have the right tools in place or a culture that demands better planning, then change will be more difficult. Showing value will be key, so pick an aspect of planning to improve and do it. Demonstrated success and value will influence others to follow your lead.


What are two pieces of advice you would give to new Project Managers?


Spend more time planning and don’t neglect to invest time in strategy. According to a recent study published by Andy Crowe, the best Project Managers spend twice as much time planning as do their less successful peers. Don’t undervalue the time invested in planning – that is one of the biggest challenges I observe at client companies. They rush the planning stage of a project because they want to start execution NOW! But this only works to their future detriment when they discover they are not as organized, coordinated, or compliant in the completion of their deliverables. Second, Project Managers tend to get caught up in the day-to-day activities of their project at the expense of thinking about (and
planning for) how to achieve longer-term goals. Whether it’s planning how to achieve future staffing levels or positioning the company for success in the market, spend a few hours a week focusing beyond the current day’s horizon.

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